Are X Rays Always Covered As Preventative Care

Are X Rays Always Covered As Preventative Care

When budgeting for medical expenses, it’s helpful to be able to anticipate upcoming costs before they become surprises. This means understanding what dental services are included as part of preventative care, and what dental services require different coding because they’re part of another treatment that may not be considered preventative. The short answer to the question, “Are x-rays always covered as preventative care” is no, but there is more detail here that may help patients who aren’t clear on what is and what is not preventative.

Generally speaking, preventative care means dental procedures that are done to preempt dental complications. These procedures include bi-annual cleanings, debridements, oral cancer screenings and, yes, x-rays. In fact, many dental offices will offer a simple, low price for a new patient evaluation, including x-rays, cleaning and screenings. Because there isn’t any reconstructive or invasive work that is being done (even though you may consider someone reaching into your mouth as being invasive), the procedures are deemed to be preventative and not corrective.

Corrective procedures cover those services that fix or replace an area of the mouth. These procedures go well beyond basic cleaning and screening - they can get very complicated and most of them do require a series of x-rays to be performed so that the dentist has a good idea of how the teeth are situated in relation to other bony material in the mouth. An example of a corrective procedure would be having a root canal performed in anticipation of a filling or other procedure done for the purpose of remediating a poorly-functioning tooth. In this case, the service is not considered preventative, and any x-rays that would be done would be classified as part of the corrective procedure as a whole.

X-rays are critically important for the dentist to obtain a clear idea of how your teeth are faring in the boney, gummy environment that is your mouth. There’s a lot that goes on below the gumline, and that’s why x-rays are a necessary tool for any dental office. Understanding which x-rays are covered by dental insurance and which ones are not will help with budgeting for medical expenses on a quarterly or annual basis. If you’re not sure whether a particular procedure or x-ray is covered by your existing dental insurance provider, a quick call or e-mail to your insurance company with a description of the procedure you’re considering should yield results.


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